DFL Party shelves mid-session fundraiser that drew questions
Minnesota Democrats have called off a party fundraiser that raised questions about the involvement of top lawmakers in an event soliciting contributions that legislators would be barred from raising on their own.
Invitees were told in an email Thursday that the decision to postpone the event was made due to the workload at the Capitol and that it would be rescheduled for later in the year. A DFL Party spokesperson said it would probably be delayed until after the Legislature finishes for the year.
“As the pace of work at the Capitol continues to increase, we want to ensure our lawmakers, activists and stakeholders are able to devote their full attention to doing the business of the people of Minnesota,” the email said.
The DFL Party fundraiser had been set for March 28 at a hotel in the shadow of the state Capitol. DFL Senate and House leaders as well as Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan were billed as headliners.
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State law bars candidates and caucuses from raising money from lobbyists and groups that might have business pending before the Legislature while it is in session. Because the money was going to the state party and the lawmakers weren't considered hosts, the event appeared to circumvent the prohibition.
Republicans have already pushed for a law change to close what they see as an influence loophole. A bill to include political parties in the session contribution restrictions was introduced on Thursday.
“We are committed to closing this loophole and will continue to push our bill to be passed into law,” Senate Minority Leader Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, said in a written statement. “And we hope Democrats will join us in a show of bipartisanship to meet the expectations of Minnesotans that the Legislature is not for sale.”
Some DFL lawmakers have publicly said they support the proposed change, although a group of senators voted down an amendment in a committee this week that would have done so. They said the wording of the proposal needed closer examination.
“I expect it to be resolved when this language comes back because it is a correct idea,” Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, said Tuesday. “The language may not be the best, but I’m going to be extremely disappointed if we do not and the people you are working with do not resolve this.”